More than a decade ago, yours truly was one of the happy Indians residing in the Middle East when the first visuals of an English Indian news channel, Star News was beamed into his home. The channel was owned by Star TV of the Rupert Murdoch owned News Corporation International. In a strange twist the entire operations was handled by a little known studio based out of New Delhi, with a name synonymous with the place: New Delhi Television (NDTV).
Those were the days when India bolstered by the liberalisation policies of early 90s, was slowly making its mark in the world map. The new channel had a young, vibrant set of talent of the likes of Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami, Vikram Chandra, Barkha Dutt, Sreenivasan Jain etc. It was amazing to see such passion and drive among almost all the reporters in the channel. It had some really good programming and some path breaking journalism. Those days the channel was objective, aggressive and to me it had a suave, savvy reporting methodology. The stories showcased on the channel was highly successful in painting a new young India, its interesting politics, obsession to cricket and Bollywood. This potent mix was well broadcasted by the channel.
In the beginning years of the 2000s, NDTV having made enough money from its once in a lifetime deal with the Star Networks Asia, ventured out into forming its own channel or group of channels: NDTV 24×7, NDTV India and NDTV Profit. The channel with no time topped the ratings and was unstoppable. Many of the stories carried by the NDTV studios like the coverage of Kargil war, 9/11 coverage, first NDA government, ascension of Sonia Gandhi and even the amazingly pulsating election coverage. Who can forget how Prannoy Roy along with Rajdeep used to make the whole election news coverage into an ODI cricket match.
Slowly and steadily, NDTV’s success brought in lot of eyeballs and slowly and steadily it started losing its stalwarts one after the other: Rajdeep let with a huge set of people to form his own channel CNN-IBN, Arnab who always had his issues with Rajdeep left to join Times Group, Appan Menon one of the finest Indian journalists passed away. The channel was left in the hands of a still vibrant team of Barkha, Vikram, Sonia and others.
The group simply grew from strength to strength. By 2008 it was in talks to launch its own Hindi GEC NDTV Imagine, it had regional English news channels all over India and it was simply unstoppable till the 2008 recession gave the group a reality check. Suddenly overnight, the channel crumbled and sold most of its assets. Incidentally it was the time when the UPA 1 government was embroilled in the cash for votes scandal. The silence of the channel in the major scandal did raise eyebrows.
When the avalanche of scandals hit UPA-2, the channel was caught neck deep in the Radia tapes scandal with its Senior Editor Barkha Dutt implicated with recordings of her conversations with lobbyist Radia becoming public. The silence employed by NDTV since then and till date on almost all the scandals of the Congress led UPA 2 government has shown it was it was complicit with one of the most corrupt government India has seen its history. Even during the Anna Hazare Lokpal protests to the emergence Narendra Modi as a capable right wing alternative to fix India’s mess, the channel worked overtime in destroying its reputation among the Indian youth, fond nostalgic memories of non resident Indians like yours truly and everything it once stood for. This media powerhouse has become a helpless tool of the hypocritical Indian Congress party PR machinery.
These days, yours truly reads and watches NDTV just to discover the new lies that they bring to the table each day. It is an indeed sad moment as one of prime examples of fond television viewing memories while growing up is now even worthless than the toilet paper being used by yours truly each day. It is a prime example of how hard it is to build a life of integrity, ethics and values and how easy it is to destroy it.
Image courtesy: http://drop.ndtv.com/albums/GADGETS/indianapps//ndtvapp.jpg